Gunnery Sergeant James E. Sirmones III

First of all, let me start of by saying “Happy New Year” to all of you. We hope that your holiday season was a joyous season and that you were able to be with family, friends, or by yourself, if that is what you wanted to do. Our January 2013 Spotlight is with an individual from the US Marine Corps with whom Destiny – Pride worked in 2011 during our Toys for Tots Holiday Toy Giveaway endeavor. He is Gunnery Sergeant James E. Sirmones III, and was the Toys for Tots Coordinator in 2011 for Marine Corps Site Anacostia, based at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) here in Washington DC. We will talk with Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones about his US Marine Corps life, his work with the Toys for Tots and what he’s doing now. (Click on photos to enlarge them)

Destiny – Pride: Good Evening, Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Good evening, how are you doing?

Destiny – Pride: I am well. Destiny – Pride thanks you for agreeing to be our Spotlight for the first month of this New Year. We’re interested in finding out what you’ve been doing since our joint venture in 2011, but first things first: tell our visitors a little about yourself, starting with where and to whom you were born and a give us a brief synopsis of your family structure and life.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I was born in Jacksonville, Florida to James Elijah Sirmones, Jr. and Yolanda Carissa George – my father made her Yolanda Sirmones. That’s who I was born to and where I was born.

A young James Sirmones hugs his mother, Mrs. Yolanda Sirmones (photos provided by Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones)

Destiny – Pride: Are there any siblings?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Yes, I have one brother and one sister. My brother is 8 years younger than me and my sister is a year and 10 months younger than me.

Destiny – Pride: What did you do growing up in Florida? What schools, etc.?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I grew up in a part of Jacksonville, Florida that we call “Sweetwater” – Westside of Duval County, Jacksonville, Florida. I went to Oak Hill Elementary School. Enjoyed it. From there I went to Smart Pope Livingston [Elementary] for the 6th grade. After that, my mom put me in private school – Temple Christian School. After that, from the 7th grade to the 9th grade, I was at Temple Christian School. Then she put me in what we call FCCS [First Coast Christian School], which is also a private school. I was there until the 10th grade. Eventually we moved to public school – Nathan Bedford Forrest High School – where I graduated in 1991.

I did a couple things when it came to studying after I graduated, but then I decided . . .

Destiny – Pride: Well let’s stay here with your being young. Did you play any sports or anything?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Sports? Well, I’ve always been very athletic, but I did gymnastics from the age of 8 until I came into the Marine Corps. – something different than what most of the kids were doing in my neighborhood. I wasn’t really big enough to play football or tall enough to play basketball, so gymnastics was the sport that actually came across my path and my parents were at the financial status at that particular time to allow me to be in gymnastics. It is – and I didn’t know that then – a very expensive sport.

Destiny – Pride: You mean you did all the flipping like in the Olympics and stuff like that?

Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones did gymnastics from the age of 8 years old until he joined the US Marines. He performed as an “all-around competitor”

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Every event. I did 6 different events for the males: you have Parallel Bars; you have High Bars; you have the Rings; the Vault; you have the Floor and you have the Pommel Horse. I competed in all of them. I was called an “all-around competitor.”

Destiny – Pride: So you did all of that competition in the state of Florida? 

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Yes Sir. All over the state of Florida. I did pretty well, but eventually you grow up and, for me, a couple of things happened that changed my further progression in it. Sometimes things will take place in life that you can’t control as a child. I had an opportunity actually to be up under the tutelage of Ron Galimore, who was the first black Olympian in gymnastics. Unfortunately, like most black mothers, my mom was very cautious: she didn’t know him; she didn’t know the area, which was in Tallahassee – about an hour and a half/two hours away from Jacksonville, Florida. She wasn’t comfortable with me going up there. So that kind of stifled my progression on that and I stayed in Jacksonville, Florida up under the tutelage of an individual that ended up getting arrested for child molestation. 

From there, things began to change because, after he was arrested, and everything came out on what his aspirations were for different individuals – which didn’t look like me – they ended up picking him up. I was at the gym at the time; he was supposed to take me home. They came and said to me, “Look, he’s not going to be able to take you home. Something’s happened.” After I got home, my parents told me what had taken place and that changed my whole gymnastics career because you didn’t have the level of expertise in Jacksonville, Florida that I needed to progress and get better.

Destiny – Pride: What is your marital status and are there any children?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Yes. My marital status is single. I’ve been in the Marine Corps almost 20 years now, and I’ve never been married. For some people, it’s hard for them to believe that, but I have three kids: one boy, 15; my oldest daughter is 13; and my youngest daughter is 5 months.

Destiny – Pride: What are their names?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones bonds with his three children – his oldest son, Keenan Deshon Tyrell, who holds his youngest daughter, Emelia Sophia, and his middle daughter, Gabriela Karolina

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: My oldest, Keenan Deshon Tyrell Sirmones. The middle child is Gabriela Karolina Sirmones; and then you have Emelia Sophia Sirmones.

Destiny – Pride: I’ve noticed something. Somebody told me that some people get a “double discount.” You probably are asking “What the heck is that?” What I’m saying is that you look African American, and then I happen to be in your office one day and noticed that you speak Spanish fluently. That’s when you told me about the other part. Please share that with our visitors. You blew my mind!  

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I will be honest and say that when I was in high school, I failed Spanish. But as most of us do, when we get older, we realize things about ourselves that we didn’t know in our juvenile years. For me, I liked Spanish, but I wasn’t really interested in putting the time in high school to actually learn it. Later on, I joined the Marine Corps and ended up going into what we call the “MSG Program” – Marine Security Guard Program. I was stationed in South America for a year and a half. The first couple of weeks – maybe even a month – after I got there, I said, “Okay, Spanish. Whatever!” I ended up going out with a couple of Marines and had an altercation with a local – a local national, as we say. Of course we have many Hispanics in the United States, but here it is, I was in a country that was majority Hispanic.

I didn’t like the way this individual spoke to me. I didn’t like it that I didn’t understand what this individual said to me, but I knew it wasn’t good. So from that aspect, it gave me the motivation to learn it, because I wanted to be able to understand and communicate with the people in that country. I started taking classes at the Embassy, but that was moving too slowly. I have friends, very close friends, and ended up dating an individual over there that spoke no English. That sped up my ability to learn it. I’m still not perfect – I wasn’t perfect then – but I enjoy speaking Spanish. I think it’s a beautiful language.

Destiny – Pride: And you have some Indian blood?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: It’s funny you ask that. Everybody professes they have some type of Native American in their bloodline, but I can’t sit here and say, “Okay, this is the specific bloodline, but I will tell you, yes, I do have Native American in my family heritage. It’s clearly obvious in my great grandmother and her husband, and it jumps back and forth. So yes, we do have Native American on my mom’s side in my bloodline.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones’ childhood was pretty basic. His father did well owning his own business. Sirmones says he remembers never wanting for anything

Destiny – Pride: You get a lot of discounts! Whoever wins, you might join that group! 

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: You’ll find that sometimes, depending on where you are, people, once they get to know you, become blinded to the shade of your skin. And I’ve found that to happen to me at least twice where individuals will speak around me or speak to me or speak about other people as though I’m not that race of people. When I bring it to their attention: “You, you know I’m black, right?” They will straight faced tell me, “Yes, but you’re different,” which taught me a lot of things about myself. It taught me a lot of things about how people see black Americans and taught me that sitting down, paying attention to people will actually allow you to see what people see in you and desire about you as a person.

Destiny – Pride: What about your educational achievements?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Educational achievements. I would say, for me, the very basic. I am not a highly educated man. I graduated from high school and everything that I’ve learned after that has been from either a Marine Corps class or something that I’ve take that wasn’t enough for me to get a degree yet. That’s where I say that I’ve fallen off and still aspire to get my education.

Destiny – Pride: What faith, if any, are you and how, if at all, has it played a role in your life and your life’s decisions?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I like that question because the world itself has changed so much and we have these different denominations. At the end of the day, the denominations may be different, but you have to say whether or not you believe in Christ. I am of the faith of Christian – the Christian religion, if you want to say that.

Destiny – Pride: How does that play a role? They said at one time that what makes an atheist a believer is a “foxhole.” So how does that factor in your life’s decisions because sometimes there’s the regimented status of the service and also your faith. Do they ever “clash”?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones had a very curious mind as a child, always wondering how things worked, and why things happened the way they did

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: For me, no. I have always been – and I don’t know if I’m saying this correctly – a self-convicted person, even at a young age. At a young age, most kids are very, very naïve. If you were to tell me that the sky was purple, then the sky is purple because you said it is. What caused it to be purple, I don’t know. But because you said it was purple, I believed it. Then as you get older you realize that people can deceive you. Now when you tell me the sky is purple, I want to know, well how is it purple? So for me, when it comes to my religion – or my faith – it’s something that has evolved and developed as I’ve gotten older. Since I was a kid, I’ve never had a problem believing in God. I’ve never had a problem, more specifically, believing in Jesus Christ and him dying for our sins and raising up again on the third day. It’s never clashed with what I’ve done in the military because I don’t think I’ve ever been put in that situation where what I believe at any point and time has clashed with what I needed to do.

Destiny – Pride: Who are individuals who have either influenced you, and or who have helped to shape you into the person you are today? 

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: My mother and my father. Everything that I do, everything that I think, everything that I believe is rooted and stemmed from their mentorship, their discipline, their love and their direction for me. I can go back in the timeline from when I came into the Marine Corps to right now. I can go back further than that to my first memory as a child and every person that I’ve met has influenced me somehow, but my root of who I am and the line that I walk is stemmed in my mother and my father 100 percent.

Destiny – Pride: Tell us about your life prior to becoming a US Marine.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: My life prior to becoming a US Marine for me was pretty basic, but when I step back and really look at it, in comparison to most of my peers from where I grew up, it was totally different because most of my peers ran the streets most of the time. I grew up in a majority black neighborhood; drug infested – people like to say “ghetto.” I never considered it to be a ghetto. My great grandmother lived on the next street. My dad had a business that was doing very, very well up into my early teens. I didn’t want for anything.

Destiny – Pride: Let me do a follow up. I want to look at how influential your parents were and you talked about how they shaped and developed you. Did that shaping and that impact make it easier for you to transform from that environment into the Marine Corps. Did that help you to ease into the Marines?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I will answer the question by saying yes, but it wasn’t only them. It was the experiences that they allowed me to be in and the experiences that I put myself into that developed me into being the person that I became. When I went into the Marine Corps, I was a pretty basic black kid in Jacksonville, Florida. But I always was curious about everything. I always wanted to know how something worked. I always wanted to know why this happened.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones states that everything he learned after high school graduation was from his life’s experiences and classes he either took in the US Marines or something he took that that wasn’t enough for a degree.  He is determined, however, to get his degre

I was a restless kid, I would say. There are times, and I’d tell my mom this, and of course they didn’t know this before, but there were times as a young teen that I would wake up at two and three o’clock in the morning and I would walk the streets just because I was restless. But it was the discipline they gave me and the things they put me in, i.e., gymnastics. Gymnastics as a sport requires you to have personal discipline. It can be a team sport because you put all your scores together, but by definition of “team sports,” it doesn’t fit. You understand that you’re on the same team and you’re trying to work to the same goal. You aspire to do better because of everybody else around you. But when you’re on an apparatus and you’re doing it by yourself, it takes personal discipline. 

I had to compete one time with about a six-inch gash in my shin that I had gotten from hitting the high bar that we have. And that is a steel bar. It bends and flexes, but anybody that’s been hit in the shin with a steel bar, they know how much it hurts! I had to continue to compete with that thing. Every time I would do something, every once in a while I would nick my shin and you’d have to move through the pain. So when I transitioned and became a Marine, to me it wasn’t that hard. Eventually I did my first 6-1/2 years in the Marine Corps; got out and did a couple of other things before I went back in 8 months later. But when I did go back in, I will never forget my dad telling me that everything I had done prior to the Marine Corps made it possible for me to do good in the Marines. I had never thought about it, especially not in the way that he showed me. Once he said that, I started looking back on a lot of things I had done and I believe 100% he was right.

Destiny – Pride: You have hit upon this but you might want to expound on it a little more. What was it that made you decide to serve in the Marines? I think you did hit on it, but what was that salient moment where you were just sitting there and said, “Wow, I’m going to be a Marine”?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I never wanted to be in the military; never wanted to be in the military. In high school my mom wanted me to be a part of the Air Force ROTC, and I’m like, “I’m not walking around in school with those blue suits on. I’m not going into the military, so I don’t see why I should go into ROTC.” She left me alone.

The Gunnery Sergeant with is oldest child, Keenan Deshon Tyrell

I was working three jobs and going to ITT Technical Institute to be a computer technician. I was working these three jobs and trying to go to school and I said, “This is crazy for me to be working these three jobs and trying to go to school when I know that they have the college plan for the Marine Corps.” I was working at this Italian food restaurant and I would see marines walk by. I started to do my research and I’d see the commercials. I liked the commercials and I liked the uniforms. I also looked into the Army –I had an uncle that had gone into the Army – so I was kind of pulling towards the Army. But as simple as this may seem, I talked to an Army recruiter, and I was telling him that I was looking at the Marine Corps also, and I liked what the Marine Corps showed me that they stood for. They didn’t show me a lot of money or anything like that. It had to do with the fact that it wasn’t easy. 

When the Army recruiter told me, “If you do anything else, please do not go into the Marines,” that sparked my curiosity. Why would he not want me to go into the Marines? What was it about the Marines that was so bad? So I did further research and once I really looked at it, I saw that “This is me. This is something different from everybody else around.” I lived in a city where it had three different Naval Bases, so all I saw most of the time were Army and Navy. Not a whole lot of Marines. This is what I am. I have a number of people around me in my neighborhood doing a number of things that you see everyday – drugs, shootings, hanging around, not really doing a whole lot. But I’m doing gymnastics, something different from what everyone else is doing. I’m going to church all the time. Most of my friends that I knew weren’t doing that. The discipline that I had in gymnastics, to me, it fit. It made sense to me.

Destiny – Pride: How long have you been in service?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Technically, 19 years and 6 months. Paperwork wise, it will be 20 years on tomorrow [12/15/2012].

Destiny – Pride: Where do the other six months come in?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Well, you have a delayed entry program that the Marine Corps – well most branches, if not all branches, of the military have. What it means is – and this is Gunnery Sirmones’ take on it –it’s a psychological way . . .

Destiny – Pride: To see whether they’re going to keep you or not?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: No, no. To make you feel that you’re a part of an Association that you really aren’t legally a part of yet. So they have you sign papers saying, “Okay, I’m going to be a Marine on this day.” From that time period you’ve made a commitment – a promise – to an organization that, when you get old enough and when your slot comes up, you’re joining their force. So what the Marine Corps does then is they use that number, that date that you signed up for the delayed entry program, and they start saying that’s when you were actually in the Marine Corps. But pay-wise, technically, that’s not really the truth. You don’t actually become legally an employee of the government – or we’ll say “committed” to the government – until after you swear-in that second time.

Gunnery Sgt’s children are very dear and special to his heart and he spends plenty of time with them

Destiny – Pride: So can they count that time as you progress through and towards retirement?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Yes they can. 

Destiny – Pride: Ok. Describe some of your US Marine experiences. Have you been deployed?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Yes, I’ve been deployed twice. In one deployment it was an extended deployment, equivalent to two deployments. That was in 2006 to 2007. I was in Iraq for 13 months. I was only supposed to be there for about 7 months, but they asked who wanted to volunteer to stay. So I stayed, liked what I was doing – enjoyed it. I was focused. It made sense to me, so I stayed. At the time, it made even more sense because my kids were still in school, and I couldn’t see them anyway. So it was at the time a win-win.

Destiny – Pride: Were you in any action – the gun and all of that? The pow-pow?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: The pow-pow? No, no, no. People’s definition of what war is and what takes place during war is totally different from most military personnel’s experience of war. For me, I’m on the support side of the house, which means we make sure that things keep moving. We also call it “logistics.” You can say you’re going to travel – you’re going to go on a trip – but if there’s no planes, you don’t have any money, you don’t have any clothes, then you’re not going on a trip. There are things that happen behind the scene to make sure that happens. I was a part of that.

The only occasion that I had to actually see something like that is when we were transporting some gear to the center of the city to move some things around for the City Center. It’s like the City Council or something like that, and we were putting barriers and things around it. We had to take an armored forklift out and move those things around. That part was dangerous because as soon as you left the gate, people started firing over the vehicle, around the vehicle, and we had to figure out where they were coming from and things like that. Then, you have to expose yourself once you try to get the forklift off the vehicle and get it moving down the road. They do a 360 around the vehicle for security and then you guide the vehicle off and you take off to go to your destination – and pray to God that you don’t hit an IED or nobody pops you off.

Destiny – Pride: And an “IED” for our visitors is?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: It’s an “Improvised Explosive Device.”

Destiny – Pride: The ones that be blowing up.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Yes Sir.

Destiny – Pride: Now explain to our visitors exactly what a Gunnery Sergeant is and does.

Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones, who was the Coordinator for the 2011 Toys for Tots effort in Washington, DC, also assisted with DC’s 2012 effort, which prepared bags of toys for approximatey 6,000 to 8,000 needy children 

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: One thing about, not just the Marine Corps but most or all military services, is that you have a “military occupational service.” What that military occupational service is, quite simply, it’s your job – what your specific job is supposed to be in that military service. The Marine Corps has a way of giving you a job and educating you in that job, but then if it needs you to do something that has nothing to do with that job, then that’s what you do. You could come in the Marine Corps and be an administrative guy, but if they say, “Look, we need somebody to go and do security on the base for 8 months to a year, then that’s what you’ll do. 

The rank of Gunnery Sergeant is exactly that – a rank; a level of tenure that you’ve reached in the Marine Corps; promotion level. It doesn’t matter what your military occupational service is, there’s Gunnery Sergeants all across the Marine Corps, but I will say this: for each level of rank that you acquire in the military – more specifically the Marine Corps – there’s a certain personality, a certain level of understanding, knowledge and ability that comes along with it. As a Gunnery Sergeant, you do and you are expected to be able to carry out a great deal of many things and to be able to lead marines in an effective manner. Quite simply, you should be able to competently manage a large group of marines. The largest group I’ve ever managed, or had to deal with was 48 marines. Then you have subordinates up under you that make sure that happens. Here in Washington, DC, it’s just me. I don’t have those individuals under me to make sure things happen. It’s me doing what I need to have done, by myself. That’s fine.

Destiny – Pride: How did you get involved with Toys for Tots?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Toys for Tots for Washington, DC, being the coordinator, I don’t think it’s ever something that most people “volunteer” for. I think – not trying to be funny or be facetious about the program, I think that most people, once they understand or have seen what it is, they would volunteer faster to go to Afghanistan or Iraq than to actually do it because it is that difficult of a job. It’s something that you don’t go to school for. You’re not taught economics. You’re not taught accountability or warehouse management, but those things are things you have to do when you become a coordinator. It’s not something that you volunteer for. When your Commander looks at you and he sees you – or she sees you – as being a capable, competent person, they task you in making sure that it’s successful, and they believe that you will make it successful.

Destiny – Pride: We’ve seen you in pictures with First Lady Michelle Obama during her involvement with the Toys for Tots program. What was your impression of her, especially with her, her husband and daughters being the first African Americans to live in the White House?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones during the 2012 Toys for Tots effort in Washington, DC

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: I believe it was in 1997 or 1998 when I actually met President Clinton and the First Lady then, Hillary Clinton, in Australia. We spent a pretty good amount of time with them. Shook their hands, too pictures and everything with them. I think with most people that you’re around, you get a certain feeling about them. The comparison of the feeling I got from President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, in comparison to Michelle Obama is night and day. I don’t know if it was because of my age or the situation, but the impression and feelings that I’ve gotten from First Lady Obama is a lot of care, concern and serious intent to show that she does care about kids that don’t have. That she does care and that she wants to promote a more family-oriented, a more kid-focused United States. I think that’s very clear. My impression of her is truthful, loving and integrity. Not saying that I didn’t get that from when I met the Clintons, but it was more prominent for the 45 minutes to, I believe it was almost an hour and a half that she was there and that she spent time with the kids. She was scheduled for a period of time, but she stayed there a lot longer. You sit and watch her with the kids, or you sit there and watch her with people and you can see the genuine care and concern that she has by the way she expresses herself; the way she interacted with the individuals that were there at the time. 

Destiny – Pride: Are you looking to make military service a career choice? If not, what are your plans, post-US Marines – other than working for Destiny – Pride?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: It is true that I have made the Marine Corps a career choice. For us, by the rank of actually Staff Sergeant, E6, sometimes even Sergeants, they work you up from E-5. In the Army, they call it a Buck Sergeant – “5 bucks,” that’s where they get it. From E-5, you’re considered a “careerist.” I’ve been considered a careerist since I was a Sergeant, so we’ll say since 1997, I’ve been considered to be a careerist for the Marine Corps.

I am coming up on my tenure now and as soon as I hit 20 [years] I will be a civilian. What will happen with the next episode of James’ life, the question is still out there. The opportunities in Washington, DC are huge. I’ve talked with three people as of right now, that have given me ideas on things that I could and things that I desire to do, but the question still hasn’t been answered about what I’m going to do once I leave the Marine Corps.

Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones works with volunteers during the Toys for Tots effort which he coordinated in 2011 

Destiny – Pride: That’s 6 months.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: It’s actually a little bit less than that once you count leave.

Destiny – Pride: You just ignored me when I said that in 6 months you could be here and be one of the greatest people working with Destiny – Pride that we’ve ever had!

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: No, I hear everything.

Destiny – Pride: Yeah, you hear everything, but you’re not listening! You’re a young man now, but what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment so far?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: So far? That is probably, for me, the most difficult question that you could ask me at the moment because there have been so many different levels of accomplishments as a person.

Destiny – Pride: Give me a couple of them. 

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Graduating from high school would be one. Why would that be an accomplishment? Because it was a transition time for me. As I mentioned previously, I went from private school to public school and anybody that can remember, when you start going through your teen years, it can be a very traumatic, confusing time. So to go from a private school, where you’re the only black kid, to a public school where you have a lot of black kids and your way of doing things and thinking is totally different, can be very difficult and it can send you through many different things. For me, I never really felt like I fit with everybody or fit with a whole lot of people there, so just getting out of high school was a big accomplishment for me, and I’m sure it was for my parents at the time also.

Graduating from Marine Corps Boot Camp was an accomplishment. Once you leave Boot Camp, I don’t care who you are, there is something that you’re going to look at from your previous lifestyle and you can say I am better, stronger and more effective now than I was in my younger years. In the Marine Corps, I’ve had physical accomplishments. I’ve had professional accomplishments that have all been a stepladder that increased and got me to where I’m at right now. One thing I will say is that you have to remember in the military, you can be the best you can be and because it is a machine, machines still breakdown and parts at times get replaced. You have to remember that your personal accomplishments should not be included in the workings of the machine itself. I would say to date in the Marine Corps one of my biggest accomplishments is actually completing and effectively being the Toys for Tots coordinator for Washington, DC because it was the hardest job I can say that I’ve ever had since I’ve been in the Marine Corps. 

Destiny – Pride: What would you feel would be your major disappointment?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Not having a degree before I retire. That is my major, major disappointment.

Destiny – Pride: And it still might occur, right?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Me getting an education? It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. It is very much so inevitable!

Destiny – Pride: What hobbies or activities do you involve yourself in that help you to relax? 

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Writing. Writing and running. Running is an immediate remedy for relaxation and writing is one of those things that, because it takes time, it’s a slow drain. Once I do put whatever I’m thinking on paper, I have the tendency of not even remembering it anymore. There’s more, but those I would say are my two biggest ones. I enjoy actually writing more than running. (For sample of writing, click here)

Destiny – Pride: What type of writing?

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Whatever suits me. If I feel like writing a poem, I write a poem. I actually have some in my phone. I think I do my best writing when I’m in emotional distress, I would say, or we’ll say “hurt,” because most men, we don’t tell people when we’re hurting, for whatever reason. It’s something either we’ve learned or we’re embarrassed about. For me, I think my best personal works is when I’m in pain.

Destiny – Pride: What last thoughts or insights would you like to leave with our visitors?

To see the video of Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones’ response

To read his response, continue below.

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: First of all I’d like to say that I’m truly, truly humbled to be asked to be the Spotlight of the Month for Destiny – Pride. They’ve done a lot for us for these last several years and I’d like to say thank you and I really appreciate it.

Secondly, I’d like to say that anything that you do or want to do in life starts and ends with the decisions that you make. It has nothing to do or no bearing on what somebody else has done to you or for you. It’s the decision that you make to either move forward, stop, or go backwards. That’s one thing that I want everybody’s that’s listening to this to understand. It will always begin and end with the decisions that you make.

Destiny – Pride: Gunnery Sergeant Sirmones, thank you for being our January 2013 Spotlight. We’ve enjoyed our conversation with you, and Destiny – Pride enjoyed working with you during the 2011 Toys for Tots effort. We wish for you the best during your continued US Marine Corps life or with whatever life path you choose to take in the future. We are sure that you will be successful in whatever it is you choose to do. Again, many thanks!

Gunnery Sgt. Sirmones: Thank you.

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